October 12, 2018

At age 66, Stenis possesses an unwavering curiosity about life. “I feel more spiritually connected. I watch nature. I look at all this stuff out here and I thought, ‘Nature is reality. It’s God’s work. It’s eternal.’”

Much of Stenis’ fascination with nature began in 1968 during his tour of duty in Vietnam. “At first, I was scared of the jungle. I was raised on the South Side of Chicago.” Now, nearly half a century after Vietnam, he recognizes the impact it had on his life like it was yesterday. “Back then, you’d be watching nature work, you’re just sitting there, not moving. You begin to notice the leaves in the morning, you could see a dew drop or an insect weigh down on a leaf when it is trying to reach the sunlight.”

Today, Stenis lives a simple life. He’s turned his small, single room occupancy hotel room into a cozy living space, commemorating his childhood in Chicago, the Marines in Japan and Vietnam, and his time in California.

He’s extraordinarily grateful for the support he receives from Meals on Wheels and Home Depot.  He becomes animated as he shows off the improvements to his home, improvements that help him physically and mentally. “I got me the towel rack, the bathroom rack, the toilet stool, the safety bar, a seat in here for the shower. A metal bookcase. They helped me get these utensils.”  But he is most excited about his new pillow. “This is what I was sleeping on,” as he motioned towards an old, well-worn pillow. “I was having problems with my right shoulder. That made a big difference. Now I don’t have a frozen shoulder.”

Heart problems, shortness of breath, and degenerative bone disease make it difficult for Stenis to move around easily. But he makes the best of life, and is very proud of his service, quickly deferring credit to his fellow marines. “When I look back, there was a lot of us there. it wasn’t just me alone.” Help from Home Depot…  “I appreciate it; I’m glad they have the program for us. Thank you.”